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Monday, 2 November 2015

House crisis: APC lawmakers Set for Showdown with Dogara Over Committee Chairmen

A fresh crisis is brewing between House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and some members of his party -All Progressives Congress- in the Green Chamber, this time over the recent constitution of committees in the House.
Dogara whose emergence as Speaker on June 9 pitched him against many party members   and the APC leadership is accused of conceding too many positions to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the appointment of the committee chairmen and vice chairmen as well as filling the juicy committees with non-APC members.

They wonder why the Southeast and Southsouth which voted against the party in the last elections should be given as many as 17 chairmanship/10 vice chairmanship positions, and 14 chairmanship/17 vice chairmanship positions respectively.
Supporters of Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, Dogara’s rival for the speakership, are shouting marginalisation in the constitution of the committees and want a redress immediately.
Garba Datti Muhammed (Sabon Gari Kaduna) and Sunday Adepoju (Ibarapa East/Ido Oyo State) have already rejected their own appointments.
Muhammed was named chairman of the Committee on Solid Minerals Development and Adepoju, deputy chairman of the committee on special duties.
It is understood that more Representatives who are disenchanted with the appointments are warming up to announce their rejection of the positions given to them.
The angry lawmakers, according to reliable sources, are insisting that the current composition of the committees must not stand.
The development was confirmed by some House of Representatives members from Kaduna, Lagos, Osun and Edo States, who believe that anything short of the reconstitution of the committees would only enable the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seize control of the House.
Tempers first rose in the House on October 22 when the committee chairmen and vice chairmen were unveiled.
In all 194 standing committees were constituted.
The chairmanship/vice chairmanship positions of the committees were shared as follows:
  • Southwest -Chairmanship 15/Vice Chairmanship 14
  • Southeast-Chairmanship 17/ Vice Chairmanship 10
  • Southsouth- Chairmanship 14/ Vice Chairmanship 17
  • Northwest- Chairmanship 19/ Vice Chairmanship 29
  • Northeast- Chairmanship 13/ Vice Chairmanship 10
  • Northcentral- Chairmanship 16/ Vice Chairmanship 15
  • FCT- Chairmanship 1/ Vice Chairmanship 1
The House leadership replaced Datti with another lawmaker from his state, Suleiman Samalia, but is yet to react to Adepoju’s decision to reject his appointment.
Datti and Adepoju are Gbajabiamila’s supporters.
Muhammed, in announcing his resignation, said he was not consulted before his appointment.
“I feel as a former principal officer, I should have been consulted before my name was announced. I just heard of it on the floor. And I have my own principles. I have decided on my own to withdraw as the chairman of that committee,” he said.
For his part, Adepoju said: “It’s nothing personal but we have a duty to ensure that the party we all fought for and succeeded in taking this far should not fail. Conceding key committees to the opposition is another  way of ensuring that the  programmes APC has for this country are truncated.”
The Nation also gathered that more lawmakers, especially those in the camp of House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, may announce their rejection of committee positions in a move that is meant to express the group’s rejection of alleged attempt by Dogara to sideline APC lawmakers in the day to day running of the Green Chamber.
Muhammed said it is unacceptable to APC members as  the majority party in the House, to have PDP lawmakers manning the most sensitive committees as announced by the Speaker.
Other sources said members opposed to Dogara’s are mobilising with the sole aim of ensuring that  the House leadership reviews the committee appointments.
Gbajabiamila has reportedly been inundated with complaints and he is party.
He is said to have advised the aggrieved Reps to make their views known to the APC leadership.
A source said:”we have learnt a big lesson from what happened during the tussle for the Speakership. We are not going to wait endlessly on the party to reject this anomaly.
“We have decided to move against this obvious impunity. I can tell you that the Majority Leader was not properly carried along in the constitution of these committees. This is against the spirit of democracy.
“As the majority party in the House, and the party in government at the federal level, we must not make the mistake of being pushed to the position of minor partner in this government. If we do that, then the change we promised the people is threatened. That is why we have resolved to resist this attempt to sideline us in our own government.”
Another source told The Nation that the APC caucus in the House is reviewing the development with a view to taking a decision.
“We are meeting by the weekend to discuss the development. We want to hear what actually happened from the principal officers. It is after that we will take a formal position. But as we speak, the popular position is that many of us will toe the line of those rejecting their committee positions,” the source said.
Gbajabiamila  told reporters on Friday  that contrary to the House  rules, he was not consulted on the selection of the  Committee chairmen by Speaker Dogara.
His words: “the list speaks for itself. I saw it for the first time at 10a.m., a couple of hours before the announcement was made. This falls short of the consultation with Principal Officers required and mandated by our House rules.”
The Nation also gathered that the Majority Leader is expected to make a public pronouncement on the development soon. Lawmakers close to him said he is as upset as any of his party men about the treatment meted out to APC lawmakers by the Speaker.
“I can tell you that the leader will make an official statement on the matter quite soon,” our source said.

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